Britain seeks support for 2015 end to sugar quotas

Britain’s farming and environment minister Owen Paterson has held talks with France’s Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll as he seeks to win support for ending sugar quotas in 2015.

The European Commission has proposed ending quotas in 2015 but some member states, including France, are discussing pushing back reforms until 2020 on the basis Europe’s sugar beet industry is not yet ready.

The European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee last week voted in favour of delaying the abolition of quotas.

There are several more steps, including a vote of the full European Parliament, before a final decision is taken.

Britain’s farm ministry said Paterson met with Le Foll in Brussels late Monday on the sidelines of the monthly meeting of EU farm ministers to urge France not to hold back proposed reforms of EU sugar policy.

“We’ve got to scrap Europe’s counter-productive sugar beet quotas as soon as possible and lift the protectionist controls on imports of cane sugar. They are bad for business and bad for consumers,” Paterson said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

Farming groups are among those who have called for the ending of quotas to be delayed.

Britain’s National Farmers Union has said that growers need a period of stability following the last major reform of the sugar regime in 2006 which led to a major restructuring in the EU’s sugar beet industry.

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